Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Decline to re-sign Leroy Hill

Weed smoking wifebeater psycho, follow Jerramy Stevens into free agent oblivion. You have disgraced your team, your city, your sex, your species. Good riddance.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Wilson walks on water in the Pro Bowl

The Pro Bowl was fun, at least for Seahawks fans.

Athletes on both sides played harder than usual in the Pro Bowl yesterday, but the NFC clearly wanted to win more.

Several Seahawks played impressively.

Free safety Earl Thomas started and played full speed nearly every defensive down into the third quarter, flying all over the field and hitting hard. The lone delegate from the Legion of Boom made a great read, jumped a route, and grabbed a clutch interception in the second quarter at the expense of Matt Schaub. The AFC struggled to score as long as Thomas stayed on the field. After Thomas exited sometime in the third quarter, the AFC finally managed to put together some long scoring drives

The AFC defense shut down Adrian Peterson, but could not stop Marshawn Lynch. He busted out some Beast Mode on a spectacular 12-yard run, backpedaling through a pile of AFC defenders who weren't expecting physical running in the Pro Bowl. Lynch later scored a touchdown.

Max Unger played well at center. Russell Okung saw action at both left and right tackle, and dominated except in a couple of cases where J.J. Watt manhandled him. Watt is a beast.

I don't think I saw Michael Robinson on the field at any point.

As predicted, Russell Wilson rose to the occasion.

Just like last year, the two veteran NFC quarterbacks made the rookie play most of the second half.  Russell Wilson responded by upstaging Eli Manning and Drew Brees.

Wilson completed 8 of 10 passes for 98 yards and 3 touchdowns. Two of those scoring throws would have been sacks for most other NFL quarterbacks, but Wilson scrambled out of trouble and found receivers downfield.

After Wilson's third touchdown, the NFC protected their large lead by running out the clock.

Only one quarterback has ever thrown for more than 3 touchdowns in a Pro Bowl (Marc Bulger threw four in 2004).

And Wilson's a rookie.

And a third round draft pick.

Somehow, Wilson didn't win the MVP award. It went to Kyle Rudolph, the NFC's leading receiver, even though Vincent Jackson and A.J. Green had better receiving days.
But no one on the field played a better game than Wilson.

When is he going to get some respect?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Aloha for Seattle's Magnificent Seven

I'm a slow learner.

I'm psyched for the Pro Bowl again.

I never expect anything more than a fun scrimmage, and sometimes the game fails to meet even that modest expectation.

But I love to see Seahawks in the mix.

Incredibly, although Seattle fielded the league's best defense, free safety Earl Thomas was the only Seahawk defender to make the NFC squad. The Pro Bowl is usually a passing derby, so Thomas will have lots of opportunities to make plays.

Leon Washington returns to Hawaii as the conference's most feared returner.

Marshawn Lynch will back up Adrian Peterson at tailback. Most Pro Bowls feature very few handoffs, but Lynch ran relatively hard last year. AP must be bone-tired after logging 2,000+ yards, and Lynch's foot may not have healed, so we'll likely see even less running than normally.

If he does take a handoff, Lynch will run behind some familiar blockers, including left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger. Human sledgehammer Michael Robinson returns as the NFC's fullback. (I'd still love to see a trick play where the former Notre Dame quarterback gets to throw a pass.)

Okung, Unger and Robinson will spend a lot of time providing pass protection for the NFC's quarterbacks, including late addition Russell Wilson, an injury replacement for Russell Griffin III and "Still Cryin'" Matt Ryan.

Wilson is probably our best bet for a good game.

The Seahawks quarterback is a relentless competitor who can inspire his teammates to exceed their potential, but the utter meaninglessless of the Pro Bowl constitutes the ultimate test of an athlete's competitive spirit and motivational ability.

As John McGrath of the Tacoma News Tribune noted, Wilson may be financially motivated to win today. For most of his multimillion dollar teammates and opponents, the difference between the losing the Pro Bowl ($40,000 payout) and winning it ($65,000) is chump change. But for Wilson--a mere semimillionaire, perhaps the lowest-paid Pro Bowler--$25,000 is real money.

The Seattle quarterback is likely to get plenty of playing time. Last year, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers hazed Cam Newton by forcing the rookie to play the entire second half. The AFC defense mercilessly exploited his inexperience, and the Panther laid an egg, completing just one-third of his passes and throwing 3 interceptions. It became pretty clear that Newton did not deserve to be there.

I expect Wilson to fare better. He will likely rise to the occasion, embracing the Pro Bowl as an opportunity to show that he belongs with the best in the game.

It should be fun.

I hope it's fun.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Carroll goes hormonal and blows the game

Second quarter, Seahawks down 13-0. Seattle's efficient march into the red zone has bogged down. We have the ball, 4th and one on the Atlanta 11.

Decision time.

Just kick the field goal, Pete. End the shutout. Erase that goose egg. Get some points on the board. If we go for it and fail, it will only embolden Atlanta and demoralize our team.

Uh oh, the offense is staying in. We're going for the first down. Carroll is going hormonal and rolling the dice.

That's OK, we have a lot of ways to pick up a yard. Just don't call the fullback dive to Michael Robinson. That has worked reliably several times in similar situations this season, because everyone keys on Marshawn Lynch in short yardage situations, but the Falcons must have done film study, so they'll expect the fullback dive and key on Rob instead. Call anything but the fullback dive.

$#!+. We're running the fullback dive. Atlanta knew it was coming and stopped Rob for a loss. Falcons ball on downs.

Fourth quarter, Seahawks up 28-27 late in a heroic second half.

With a half-minute to go, the best defense in football needs to stop one of the better offenses from getting within field goal range. We've been stopping them routinely for most of the half.

Atlanta has their best kickoff return of the game, to their own 28.

Matt Ryan completes a long pass to midfield.

First down on the fifty for the Falcons. Thirteen seconds remain in the game.

Seahawk defenders crowd near the line of scrimmage, bluffing blitz. I hope it's a bluff. Don't blitz! We haven't successfully pressured Ryan all game. Our best defense is a swarm of defensive backs and linebackers in coverage. That's what has shut down the Atlanta offense here in the second half. Stick with what's working.

Oh, no. It's not a bluff. Pete's gone hormonal again, and we're blitzing two defensive backs. I love that when it works, but it hasn't been working today. The Falcons ably defend the blitz, just as they've done all game. Ryan completes yet another pass to Tony Gonzalez, this one for 18 yards. We could have used more defenders in coverage.

Atlanta's lining up to attempt a 49-yard field goal.  Wide right! Yes! Seahawks win!

Timeout? Hormonal Carroll called a timeout to ice the kicker? Does that ever work? Their kicker gets a do-over. Splits the uprights. Seahawks lose.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

It's time to burn Atlanta again

In 1865, retreating Confederate forces torched Atlanta to deny supplies to invading Union forces under the command of General William Tecumseh Sherman. In keeping with strong southern traditions of delusional paranoia, denying responsibility, and misattributing of blame, the city's residents blamed the northerners for the conflagration.

It would be sweet if the Falcons were to self-destruct today against Seattle, because that would create a perfect repeat of what happened in Atlanta during the Civil War.

But that's unlikely. Our opponents today are not outnumbered, underfed, and ill-equipped chumps like the Confederate forces of the 19th century.

If Seattle is to win, the Seahawks will have to torch Atlanta themselves.

Atlanta is 7-1 at home this year. They rested last week while Seattle battled Washington. They are strongly motivated to end a recent history of one-and-done playoff appearances.

The Falcons field one of the league's most potent offenses.

During the regular season, Atlanta was 7th in points scored, 8th in overall yards gained, 29th in rushing yards, and 6th in passing yards.

Seattle was 9th in points scored, 17th in overall yards gained, 3rd in rushing yards, and 27th in passing yards.

This is Ground Cable versus Ryan Air.

Quarterback Matt Ryan completed a league-high 68.6% of his passes, a stunningly efficient figure matched only by Peyton Manning this year, and rarely exceeded in the history of the NFL. "Matty Ice" threw for 4,719 yards, 32 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions.

Ryan threw five of those picks on one uncharacteristically bad day at home against the Cardinals. (Incredibly, Arizona still lost. It doesn't matter how many turnovers your defense grabs if your offense can't move the ball and score.)

How did the Cardinals shatter Matty Ice's composure? Relentless blitzes prompted Ryan to make several ill-advised throws.

Can Seattle imitate Arizona's defensive success against Atlanta?

Probably not. An injury has ended the season for our best pass rusher, Chris Clemons, leaving rookie Bruce Irvin with big shoes to fill. Clemons played most defensive downs and can stop opposing runners. In limited action, Irvin has been an inconsistent pass rusher and a liability against opposing rushers. (He also took a cheap shot on Robert Griffin III after the whistle last week. Uncool.)

Seattle signed a personal trainer who hasn't played in the NFL since 2007 as a backup defensive end/pass rush specialist.

If we're going to put any pressure on Ryan, it's probably going to come from linebacker and defensive back blitzes.

However, the players at those positions will have their hands full covering Pro Bowl wideouts Julio Jones and Roddy White and All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzalez, a future Hall of Famer and the best receiver ever to play his position. Running back Jaquizz Rodgers, the team's fourth leading receiver, has caught more balls than any Seahawk this year.

Apparently, Seattle plans to put Richard Sherman, our best cornerback, on Julio Jones; the two men are roughly the same size. Big Brandon Browner is slated to cover Roddy White, a much smaller man. Strong safety Kam Chancellor will be assigned to Tony Gonzalez.

I hope this is misinformation. Sherman on Jones makes sense, but the rest of it doesn't. Chancellor is a great tackler, but not a good cover guy.

This is what I would do:

1) Play at least nickel defense. Atlanta isn't much of a threat to run the ball, anyway, but my scheme keeps Chancellor free to play the run or to help linebackers cover running backs who go out for passes. Ratchet up to dime or bandit defenses as necessary to thwart multiple-receiver sets and to apply pressure Matt Ryan.

2) Keep Sherman on Jones.

3) Assign nickel corner Marcus Trufant to cover White, with generous support from free safety Earl Thomas.

4) Put Browner on Gonzalez, because he's big enough to handle a tight end. Browner shouldn't press Gonzalez.

5) Place a linebacker or a defensive end across the line of scrimmage from Gonzalez on every down. That defender's job is to hit Gonzalez to disrupt his route timing, but then to peel off to rush the passer, play the run, or provide containment as circumstances dictate.

So much for Seattle's defense.

What about our offense?

Russell Wilson and his men face an Atlanta defense that ranked 5th in points allowed, 24th in yards allowed, 21st in rushing yards allowed, 23rd in passing yards allowed.

Atlanta yields yards liberally, but yields relatively few points, in part because they generate turnovers. The Falcon and Seahawk defenses finished the regular season tied for 5th in the NFL with 31 defensive turnovers. Atlanta and Seattle's offenses also tied in turnovers surrendered, with 18.

Fortunately, Seattle's offense can succeed by doing what it does best: protect the ball and chew up the clock with a run-oriented attack.

Some nice returns from Leon Washington would help. Clutch punting is always appreciated.

The Diehard salutes Steven Hauschka on a great season, wishes him a speedy recovery, and welcomes Ryan Longwell to the team.

Go, Hawks!

Burn Atlanta again.

Four Seattle All-Pros

Associated Press sportswriters gave All-Pro vindication to Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, consoling the sensitive soul somewhat for the wounds sustained by fan and peer Pro Bowl voting, which made him merely a Pro Bowl alternate. Evidently, reporters don't consider Sherman tainted by by allegations of Adderall use.

Center Max Unger, running back Marshawn Lynch and free safety Earl Thomas also earned All-Pro honors.

Seattle's four selections ranked second among all NFL teams, behind only San Franscisco.

Should Bobby Wagner be the NFL defensive rookie of the year?

Several first-year defenders had stellar seasons in 2012, making it difficult to decide who deserves defensive rookie of the year honors.

The most credible candidates rank among the best players in the league at their respective positions.

This criterion immediately excludes Seattle's 2012 first-round pick, Bruce Irvin, a pass rush specialist at the defensive end position. Irvin had 8 sacks, but 28 NFL players had more, and 3 players had more than twice as many (Von Miller, Aldon Smith and J.J. Watt).

Three rookie linebackers deserve serious consideration:

Lavonte David, OLB, Buccaneers: 139 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 passes defended, 1 interception

Luke Kuechly, MLB, Panthers: 164 tackles, 1 sack, 8 passes defended, 2 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries

Bobby Wagner, MLB, Seahawks: 140 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 passes defended, 3 interceptions

The trio acquitted themselves admirably in pass coverage.

All three were prolific tackling machines. Kuechly led the league in tackles. Wagner ranked seventh; David finished tied for eighth.

Tackling statistics appear to give the edge to Kuechly, but the Panther had more time and more snaps to make those tackles:

Carolina's defense averaged 30:10 of time on the field last year (19th in the league), defending against 1,010 offensive snaps (10th in the NFL).

Green Bay's D averaged 29:54 (14th in the NFL), defending against 1,033 offensive snaps (20th in the NFL)

Seattle's defense averaged just 28:27 on the field (4th in the NFL), defending against 964 offensive snaps (2nd in the NFL).

Good defenses minimize the time of possession and numbers of snaps for opposing offenses. This is good for the team but bad for the stat lines of individual defenders. (Of course, defenses also benefit when their own team's offense maximizes time of possession and keeps them off the field.)

Wagner played even fewer snaps than the above statistics suggest, because Seattle was able to sub him out and give him some rest in the second halves of three consecutive blowouts late in the season.

So, adjusted for playing time, Wagner is as prolific a tackler as Kuechly.

Moreover, Wagner's teammates are more capable than Kuechly's. It is easier to rack up tackles when you're a stud on an average defense. It's harder when you're a rookie surrounded by talented veteran defenders.

Leadership also matters. As middle linebackers, Kuechly and Wagner were the quarterbacks of the their respective defenses, relaying instructions from the coaching staff, and directing their teammates on-the-fly in pre-snap adjustments as offensive alignments shift and quarterbacks call audibles. Rookies rarely succeed in that role, but both rose to the occasion.

Wagner did so well in training camp that Seattle traded away Barrett Ruud, the veteran middle linebacker they had signed as insurance in case the rookie failed to master the nuances of the position in time for the start of the season.

Kuechly started 2012 as an outside linebacker, but moved inside early in the season when an injury sidelined Carolina's stalwart middle linebacker, Jon Beason.

Since they were the quarterbacks of their respective defenses, perhaps the overall performance of the Carolina and Seattle defenses should count for something.

Carolina: 19th in points allowed (23 per game), 10th in yards allowed, 14th in rushing yards allowed, 13th in passing yards allowed

Seattle: 1st in points allowed (only 15.3 per game), 4th in yards allowed, 10th in rushing yards allowed, 6th in passing yards allowed

Edge: Wagner

Moreover, team success matters. Wagner's defensive leadership helped Seattle post an 11-5 record plus a playoff victory. Despite Kuechly's individual excellence, Carolina finished 7-9 and failed to qualify for the postseason.

Advantage: Wagner.

While Wagner was, in my view, better than any rookie linebacker and better than any rookie defensive lineman.

However, in just 11 starts, cornerback Casey Hayward of the Green Bay Packers defended 21 passes (tied for 3rd in the NFL) and hauled in 6 interceptions (tied for 5th in the league). Green Bay's defense doesn't scare anybody, but Hayward won some respect.

Until last night. Green Bay's entire defense disgraced themselves last night. In the second half, the whole team quit, submitting meekly while Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers thrashed them. Hayward was a relative nonfactor.

The official rookie of the year balloting concluded before the playoffs began, but for me, Wagner's superior performance in the postseason seals his case for defensive rookie of the year.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Russell Wilson blocks downfield!

Other writers have already chronicled many aspects of Seattle's glorious road win over Washington last week.

Many have marveled at Russell Wilson's prowess as a passer and a runner, but his ability as a downfield blocker for Marshawn Lynch has developed remarkably over the last several games.

I first expressed admiration for Wilson's downfield blocking after Seattle blew out the Cardinals:

"The fearless and endlessly versatile Russell Wilson did a nice job running interference for Lynch on one of those touchdown runs. He didn't throw a block, because he didn't need to do so, but I have no doubt that he would lower his shoulder if it were necessary. That kid is a gamer." ("Arizona, RIP" Seahawks Diehard 12/15/12)

I was right. Against St. Louis in the season finale, Wilson did more than run interference. He threw a couple of legitimate blocks downfield to help Lynch pick up some extra yards.

Last week in D.C., Wilson mixed it up. The rookie quarterback ran interference on one play. On another play, right after handing off to Lynch, he slipped in front of the running back to set up a pick against a closing defender. Finally, on the Beast's touchdown run, DangeRuss streaked past the running back to shove Skins cornerback Josh Wilson, unbalancing him just enough to allow Lynch to plow through three defenders en route to the end zone.

#3 is remarkably judicious about his downfield blocks. When setting up a pick or running interference will suffice, that's all he will do. If the situation requires a shove or a block, he'll do what it takes.

Until last Sunday, Wilson was equally judicious about sliding when running with the ball himself. Unfortunately, the need to lead a comeback evidently influenced him to run upright, dive headfirst and take some unnecessary hits in a quest for more yardage.

Message to Russell: I love you, man. It's OK to slide once you have the first down. No one doubts your toughness or your will to win. We need you. Please go back to sliding when it makes sense.

Incidentally, I'm pleased to see that Josh Wilson is still a starting cornerback in the NFL. I admired his work for Seattle as a kick returner and as a defensive back. While I was sad to see him go, the separation seems to have benefited both parties. Wilson wouldn't be a starter if he had stayed with Seattle. He might not even have survived training camp roster cuts. That's how good our secondary is now.

Washington's coaches and physicians should be ashamed of themselves for letting Robert Griffin to play on that damaged knee. The fact that RG3 wanted to play is no excuse. Fierce competitors often want to play through catastrophic injuries; good coaches and good doctors are supposed to shut them down so they don't hurt themselves unnecessarily or unduly damage their team's competitive prospects. For moral and competitive reasons, it is better to field a healthy backup than to push a crippled starter onto the field.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Why Seattle must shred the Skins

1. Because the Skins defiled our logo and curse around little girls

Before their game in Seattle last November, several Washington players trampled the Seahawk logo at midfield while Pro Bowl cornerback DeAngelo Hall sought to psych up his teammates with an oration peppered with profanity... within earshot of a little girl who happened to be on the field for the coin toss.

This nearly prompted a pregame brawl between the two teams. Seahawk fullback Michael Robinson assertively counseled Hall and his teammates regarding their unfortunate breaches of decorum: “You got a little girl out there, you got to watch your mouth, man.... You’re not going to come in our stadium and disrespect us like that."

Several Seattle players had to restrain Robinson and other Seahawks to prevent them from supplementing this verbal guidance with physical discipline.

Robinson remembers. He and his teammates intend to teach the Skins how to mind their manners today.

2. Because the Skins beat us in our house last year

The foregoing affront should have provided ample motivation for the team and the 12th Man to beat the Skins last year.

Seattle coasted into the contest on a two-game winning streak; Washington staggered into town having lost six straight, with only one road win on the season.

Nevertheless, the Skins humiliated us at home.

Washington's defense stacked the box against the run and challenged Tarvaris Jackson to beat them through the air. He couldn't. Fortunately, Russell Wilson can.

More disturbing was what Washington's offense did to our vaunted defense:

"Throughout the game, Skins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan outcoached Seattle's dim, manic duo of defensive bastardminds, Pete Carroll and Gus Bradley. Shanahan the Younger dialed up an inspired mix of stretch runs, screen passes, and crossing routes that kept our defenders on their heels, backpedaling. Few other teams have managed to run the ball effectively against the Seahawks. Our defenders missed many tackles. If Rex Grossman weren't so gaffe-prone, the Skins would have blown us out." ("Outcoached and outplayed," Seahawks Diehard 11//27/11)

Seattle's defense is generally stronger this year--except against the run--but Robert Griffin III, even when injured, is a far better quarterback than Grossman.

Stupid penalties were also a factor in last year's loss, and we haven't solved that problem as a team, yet.

We can't let the Skins outcoach us and outplay us again.

3. Because Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner need to back up all that smacktalk

I prefer it when players let their performance do the talking. Our supersized corners have given the Skins ample bulletin board motivational fodder. Sherman boasted that none of the Washington receivers scare him. Browner bragged about physically dominating Santana Moss last year.

4. Because Russell Wilson is better than Robert Griffin III

RG3 almost certainly won offensive rookie of the year. Andrew Luck probably came in second. Wilson probably finished third, or perhaps even fourth behind Alfred Morris.

By the end of the day, the folly of East Coast media bias will become manifest, as the Ravens will have eliminated the Colts, and the Seahawks will have shredded the Skins.

5. Because Marshawn Lynch is better than Alfred Morris

Mike Shanahan's system can make any running back look good. Morris overtook Lynch to finish second in the league in rushing, but only because Seattle rested Lynch during blowouts to save his legs for the playoffs. As 2010 showed, Beast Mode only intensifies in the postseason.

6. Because Seattle celebrates American Indians while Washington denigrates them

It never ceases to amaze me that the professional football franchise in our nation's capital retains a team name that is an outdated racial slur. If their name were a slur against African Americans, it would have been changed long ago. Unfortunately, our First People are too few and too distant from the concerns of this country's majority to merit similar consideration.

(The team's culture of racial insensitivity goes way back. After years of stubborn refusal, Washington finally caved to federal pressure in the '60s and became the last NFL team to integrate black players.)

Seattle's team logo pays homage to the art of Pacific Northwest Indians. (We should get a lot of love for this from Native Americans nationwide for this, but we don't, probably because their team allegiances were set before Seattle became viable. On reservations in the Southwest, the popular teams include the Chokeland Faders, the Pittsburgh Stealers, and the Arizona Cardinals.)

Let it be understood that when I refer to the Washington team as the Skins, that is not shorthand for their official team name. It is short for "Foreskins."

7. Because we got to the playoffs by beating good teams

Our record (11-5) is only a little better than Washington's (10-5), but we played a tougher schedule and beat better opponents.

Seattle went 4-1 against playoff teams, beating Green Bay, Minnesota, New England and San Francisco, but also losing once to the 49ers.

Washington went 2-2 against playoff teams: They beat Baltimore and Minnesota, but lost to Atlanta and Cincinnati.

The Skins are respectable at home (5-3), but not unbeatable.

8. Because our defense is the league's best

No team allowed fewer points. In the end, that's the only defensive statistic that matters.

Red Bryant is a monster. Our linebackers are predators. The secondary is brutally larcenous. The pass rush needs to show up.

9. Because it's time to win a road playoff game

Seriously. Is anyone else tired of hearing how we haven't won a road game since 1983?

10. Because we can't wait until next year

We were fortunate to suffer few injuries this year. Will we be so lucky in future years?

Philadelphia might hire away Gus Bradley. Will our defense be the same without him?

When this team plays up to its potential, it is the best Seahawks squad in history. This chance with this cast of characters will never come again. Seize the opportunity.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Diehard position on today's playoff games

Seattle fans have nothing at stake in the Bengals-Texans game. (Go, Justin Forsett...?)

However, every Seahawks Diehard should wish the Vikings well tonight. If Minnesota can beat Green Bay and win again next week, then Seattle would host the NFC Championship game, if we also keep winning. This is the only way the 12th Man can play a role in the postseason. The Packers are tough to beat in Green Bay, but with Adrian Peterson, great things are possible. Cue Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song." Go, Vikings!

Why Wilson should be offensive rookie of the year

It is difficult to decide among the trio of rookie quarterbacks contending for NFL offensive rookie of the year honors. All three helped transform losing 2011 squads into playoff qualifiers in 2012.

What criteria can help us determine who is most worthy?

Mileage matters. Andrew Luck of the Colts threw for more yards (4,374) than any rookie quarterback in NFL history. That yardage total ranked 7th in the league, and outstripped his two rookie rivals by more than 1,000 yards. While his rivals managed run-oriented offenses, Luck led an impressive aerial attack in his inaugural season, hence his advantage in passing yards. Even when we factor in each quarterback's rushing yards--a relative weakness for Luck versus his two fleet-footed rivals--the Indianapolis quarterback still maintains a significant advantage:

Andrew Luck, Colts: 4,374 yards passing + 255 yards rushing = 4,629 total yards
Robert Griffin III, Skins: 3,200 yards passing + 815 yards rushing = 4,015 total yards
Russell Wilson, Seahawks: 3,118 yards passing + 489 yards rushing = 3,607 total yards

Efficiency should also factor into the decision. Washington's Robert Griffin III achieved the highest efficiency rating ever for a rookie quarterback (102.4), finishing 4th among all qualifying passers. Russell Wilson of Seattle ranked just behind RG3 in efficiency, finishing fifth in the NFL with a rating of 100.0. Luck lagged at 26th with a score of 76.5; this was largely because he threw so many more interceptions (18) than Griffin (5) or Wilson (10).

Ultimately, scoring decides games. The Seahawks' Wilson tied Peyton Manning's record for rookie passing touchdowns with 26, more than Luck (23) or Griffin (20). Wilson also ran for 4 scores, so he produced a total of 30 touchdowns, versus 28 for Luck (23 passing + 5 rushing) and 27 for Griffin (20 thrown + 7 run). Among all quarterbacks for combined passing and rushing touchdowns, Wilson ranked 7th, Luck finished 9th, and Griffin tied for 10th with Josh Freeman and Cam Newton.

Since each statistical criteria yields a different verdict, I argue that we should let circumstances serve as the tiebreaker among the candidates.

As the top two 2012 draft picks, Luck and Griffin were expected to impress. Both signed lucrative contracts. Both were anointed as starters from the first and took all of their reps with the first teams throughout the offseason, the preseason and the regular season. Both had teams built around their strengths. Both benefited from the guidance of some of the best offensive coaches and quarterback gurus in the NFL.

Wilson, on the other hand, was a mere third round pick, widely considered too short to start in the NFL. He signed a modest contract reflecting those modest expectations. Wilson was expected to serve as a backup behind vaunted free agent Matt Flynn and possibly also veteran Tarvaris Jackson; he had to split reps with those men during the offseason and the preseason until he outcompeted them and won the starting job. Thus, he entered the regular season with significantly fewer reps than Luck or Griffin, with a team not yet customized to his skill set, under the guidance of men who have never been considered the best offensive coaches and quarterback gurus in the NFL.

Considering those significant starting disadvantages, Wilson has significantly outperformed his rivals. He is the offensive rookie of the year.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Just what we needed?

Seattle did well to win on Sunday. The Rams fought valiantly. As expected, Jeff Fisher's staff outcoached Pete Carroll's staff, but the Seahawks had better athletes and better luck.

Every victory is precious in the NFL.

Several analysts have opined that a close game was just what Seattle needed at this point.

They are wrong.

What Seattle needed was a fourth consecutive blowout to scare the hell out of our next opponent.

Winning a close one is better than losing every time, but Seattle already has plenty of experience with close games. Most of our victories and all of our losses this year were close. The barely win/narrowly lose small ball incarnation of the Seahawks doesn't really scare anyone, and it shouldn't. That version of our team was7-6 overall and 2-5 on the road.

What other teams really fear is when Seattle comes out like Kali the Destroyer, as we did during that glorious 3-game murder spree that dispatched Arizona, Buffalo and San Fransciso.

Perhaps it was too much to expect that the team could maintain that intensity in what many dismissed as a relatively meaningless game. I guess finishing undefeated at home is "meaningless." As meaningless as optimizing your win-loss record to make it possible to host the conference championship if Seattle gets that far and the 2 top seeds don't.

The costliest aspect of the close game with Sr. Louis was that Fisher's Rams provided the rest of the league with the blueprint for stalling our offense. Many teams have tried to keep Russell Wilson bottled up in the pocket, but St. Lousi pulled it off, sacking Wilson six times with a series of inspired and well-executed blitz schemes

The only good news was that five of those sacks came in the first half, and Carroll's staff managed to make some adjustments to hold St. Louis to one sack in the second half. Perhaps that learning will prevent other teams from repeating the Rams' feat.

Seattle's defense finished #1 in the NFL in terms of points allowed. It is fortunate that we have a great secondary, because we continue to give opposing quarterbacks too much time to throw the ball.

\We'd better fix that fast, or it will be a long afternoon next Sunday against RG3.